07 July 2008


It is not on all days that miracles happen and you get to see them. Here's what happened at around 7.00PM on the Madras-Bangalore golden quadrilateral road.

If you have been traveling on that road, you would now know that the toll gates start at Sriperumbudur. Given the fact that I now live in Madras, my trips on this wonderful road are in the reverse direction, i.e., from Madras to Bangalore on friday afternoons and Bangalore to Madras on Sunday afternoons.

And so, since the battery on my Royal Enfield was dying down, I was quite determined to reach home before the night time traffic peaks out on the road. I was doing a steady 80-85kmph. Given the fact that I drive a 200kg bike, that kind of speeds are quite comfortable, both to the driver and the bike. At the toll gate in Sriperumbudur, a 125cc piece of plastic and metal whizzed past me and I did not even bother to check on what it was. Once I crossed the toll gate, I accelerated into a comfortable speed and settled down nicely.

Suddenly, the plastic piece whizzed past me and that too on my left hand side. Overtaking from the left, on the highways, is the first recipe for disaster. The driver was not even wearing a helmet and the roads were a bit wet. Naturally enough, those bikes cannot sustain that kinds of raw acceleration for large periods of time and hence, he had to slow down. I overtook him and warned him by sign language that the roads were wet, and he did not have helmet. I gestured him to slow down and do a comfortable pace. Heck, he did not even have a jerkin to protect him. All he had was a t-shirt and a jeans, with a headphone plugged into his ear. His bike did not even have rear-view mirrors to help him to see what was coming behind him, something that is crucial when you are driving on a highway.

The first warning sign was that when he tried to overtake a truck without using his indicators or giving any signs that he was about to do so, a huge SUV came behind him and braked to a screeching halt to avoid hitting him. The driver of the SUV, naturally enough, showered him with the choicest abusive language that one can muster. It seemed to have little effect on the driver of that piece of plastic.

The second warning sign was that when he tried to overtake a truck "A" from the left. There was an opening in the median, and another truck "B" came into the from the right. To avoid hitting truck "B, the driver of the truck "A" moved a bit to his left and narrowly missed hitting that piece of plastic.

As the saying goes, it is hard to be third time lucky, but this bloke was. I was overtaking a truck from the right and this guy was trying to overtake both the truck and me from the right hand side. So he had to go real close to the median. He did not see the pool of water that had collected close the median. He skid and skid real bad. For almost 100 meters, as you see in movies, he skid on the road. Thankfully enough, his head did not hit the road. One could see sparks coming out from his bike that was skidding on the road. The truck driver, the drivers of a few cars and myself all stopped at the corner and went to see what was wrong with him. Thankfully enough, he had survived with just some flesh level injury. No broken bones and most importantly, no head injuries. The truck driver was livid and almost slapped him. So did the drivers of a few other SUV's. All I told him was that he is alive to die another day.

Moral of the story:
1. No piece of plastic is match for Royal Enfield on the highway. Do not even try to overtake or try to do anything with it. If you see it overtaking you, let it pass. Your ego will not be hurt.
2. Always wear a helmet and make sure your bike has proper rear view mirrors.
3. Highway driving is not city driving. In a city, the guy would have escaped. On the highway, he escaped simply because he was lucky.
4. There is no room for ego on higway.


Posted by Shyam Krishnaswamy at 9:36 AM


  1. Blogger jz.sinr posted at Monday, July 7, 2008 at 7:47:00 PM GMT+5:30  
    awesome story. i just bought a 2nd hand electra and I'll remember this on my 1st long distance ride.
  2. Blogger Rams posted at Tuesday, July 8, 2008 at 9:47:00 AM GMT+5:30  
    I am considering a bullet purchase.Just wanted to clear a few trivia.

    1. How about backpain - Does one get backpain driving long distances in the Bullet. I know that sounds too general.But, I drive 50 km per day within Chennai city and I can sense my back starting to act up even though it has been only a couple of months.
    2. Does it have any particular advantage for city driving - for instance when my steel and plastic 100 cc runs over potholes regularly in Chennai and knocks out my breath for a microsecond. Also for city driving the cycle-gap factor is decisively in favour of the plastic bikes that are smaller. Would a bullet do better in these circumstances ?
    3. Should someone who is bothered about fuel efficiency be considering a bullet at all ?

    My main reasons for considering it 1) The brakes on these plastic pieces are just incredibly bad
    2) It's very uncomfortable at high speeds, probably due to the weight as you mentioned.
    3) I don't want to buy a 4 wheeler for a single person to drive 50 km daily - and like I said I am getting concerned about my back.

  3. Blogger K.Shyam posted at Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 10:02:00 AM GMT+5:30  
    Rams: 40k+ kms on all kinds of roads and all kinds of weather conditions, and my back is still going strong ;-)

    Simple rule when you buy an enfield. No more cycle gaps. In fact, you would start avoiding it yourself !

    Fuel Efficiency ? Show my a regular 100cc or 150cc bike that continues giving 50 or 55 after 4 years ? My Enfield has been giving 38 non stop for the past four years within city and 40 on highways, with minimum maintenance. I do not think one can ask for more.

    Once you start driving an enfield you automatically tend to start driving in a relaxed and calm manner.

    If you are more than 5.5 in height, I would advise a Thunderbird. It has got that extra height and makes driving a real pleasure, whether city or highways.

  4. Blogger Rams posted at Wednesday, July 9, 2008 at 9:40:00 PM GMT+5:30  
    Shyam Thanks. I am going to try and make it to the Adyar show room pretty soon.
  5. Blogger The Talkative Man posted at Thursday, July 10, 2008 at 10:58:00 PM GMT+5:30  
    nice write-up thalai. Made interesting reading.

    highway driving...my first experience was driving(not riding) 400 miles through the North Carolina mountains last December..130PM in the afternoon and could hardly see anything in the mist. There were about 50 spaghetti curves and I kept my eyes on the tail-lights of a truck in front of me as I just couldnt see anything upfront. When you keep staring at lights in the dark, the lights something "stay" right there even after the light source has moved or turned off. This happened couple of times and I slammed the brakes to a dead stop thinking the truck had braked! Luckily there was no vehicle behind me. Phew, a scary 400 miles to and fro it was.
  6. Blogger Sheks posted at Wednesday, July 23, 2008 at 2:01:00 PM GMT+5:30  
    On many occasions I have overtaken Bullets and Enfields in my Splendor.The bike being menacing is not sufficient,the rider too must be.
  7. Blogger K.Shyam posted at Wednesday, August 6, 2008 at 10:32:00 PM GMT+5:30  
    Sheks: Try that on a highway and you are dead meat. Which is what happened to that guy.

    There is no point in rider being menacing. All that is needed is respect for the vehicle. Not for the driver. You will know once you start driving on highways.


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